It is important that siblings of children with disabilities know and understand their sibling’s diagnosis. For example, if your child has cerebral palsy, explain what that is. Let your children know how it can show in daily life that a child with cerebral palsy may take a little bit longer than other children to complete tasks.
Parents need to be aware of what their neurotypical children might be feeling or thinking. Talk to your children so that they understand. Be open and honest.
Help ease their worries. Clear up confusion. Kids who feel understood, loved and secure about their place in the family can thrive, and the bond between siblings can grow stronger too.
Talking about disability and helping them understand is important. Because typical children will question siblings, sometimes kids don’t know and may make harsh remarks.
Most siblings have at some point felt as if:
Address sibling rivalry. Remind your typically developing children they have opportunities that their sibling does not. Fair does not always mean equal.
Make family memories. Involve the entire family. Spending time together is key to forming bonds between siblings.
If your child is a teen:
Dealing with strong emotions can be hard for neurotypical developing siblings. Some cope better, and others can be more sensitive and need more time to process. It is important they have healthy ways to work through their emotions. Support whatever their interests are. Some of the following tools can help with coping:
Be aware of changes in sleep routines, appetite or behavior. They could be signs of anxiety, depression or another problem. If this happens, get help from your child’s doctor or a mental health provider.
This page has more information on supporting siblings of children with disabilities.
“Being a mom is like jumping out of a plane with a bunch of people who don’t know how to open their own chutes. So you fly around doing it for them. Then you hit the ground. But you don’t die. You get up and you cook dinner.” -Unknown
Categories: Family Support